Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Future-Proofing: Intellectual Property (Part 4 of 3)

From the comment section:

Milagre:  Hi. I follow your blog and i was wondering could the legal action against WOTC be connected to the ebay ban on MTGO card sales?

The short answer is no.  But I suspect you’d like a detailed explanation.

[1] Wildcat’s lawsuit is based on a patent for online card games.  The Ebay ban is on digital objects.  The Ebay ban is not just limited to tickets or online cards.  If you look on Ebay, you will not find items for World of Warcraft, Diablo 3, Guild Wars 2, or any other online game.  (You’ll find the games themselves, but not any of the items found inside the game.)

[2] I did a series on Ebay auctions a couple of months ago, where I postulated that Ebay was taking down these auctions as protection against copyright and patent lawsuits.
[3] I suspect there is more to Ebay banning digital items than simply copyright violation protection.  What could that be?  Sales tax.  Let me explain.

Here in the United States, there is talk of the fiscal cliff and how the US will fall into it if some deal is not made.  As we all know, there are two (2) ways to balance a budget: reduce spending (Not likely with the re-election of President Obama) or increase revenue.  This means raising taxes, seeking out revenue enhancements, increased fees, or whatever politicians wish to call them.  It means more money into the Treasury.

One of the ways that has been proposed is an Internet sales tax.  This has cropped up every now and then so the idea isn’t new.  It is just that there is so much opposition that it is politically unpopular and no politician who wishes to be re-elected will vote for this. 

But there are other ways such a tax could be levied.  One of the proposals was on the sale of digital items.  As you can imagine, this has far-reaching implications, even for us.  Diablo 3 was to have a real money auction house; where you could purchase digital items for real world cash.  As controversial as this is, Blizzard had plans to do this.  But even the mighty Blizzard buckled at the legal quagmire that would ensue.  For instance, is a digital item new or used?  I don’t mean just in the pedestrian way, but in the legal sense of when the tax was imposed on the item.
These and many more questions need to be answered and will eventually be addressed by the US Supreme Court.  But this is many years away and will not affect us bot owners for the foreseeable future.


  1. if ebay sales are banned how will we ever turn our tickets into cash?